World-renowned superstar Andrea Bocelli, the biggest-selling artist in the history of classical music, has his sights set on giving back.
“Since I was young I have always felt that I had to give my contribution to make the world a better place to stay,” Bocelli told the Vegas Guide in an email. “It was an ethical duty … an imperative priority. Professionally, I am dedicated to my biggest passion, music. Life, after all, has been very generous with me in my professional career as well as in my private life, and I have to give back to others.”
Bocelli will return to Las Vegas for his 12th appearance on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where he will once again share his gift with audiences during a performance he said he looks forward to each year.
“In Las Vegas I have a lot of [personal] friends … but I also have an audience that I perceive like a group of ‘old friends,’” Bocelli said.
For his MGM concert, Bocelli will perform songs from his latest album, “Cinema,” along with arias, love songs and crossover hits. Conductor Eugene Kohn, guest artist Katharine McPhee and soprano Ana Maria Martinez will join him onstage.
Bocelli is no stranger to philanthropic performances in Las Vegas. “Sensitivity, solidarity, philanthropy are a powerful counterpoint that I have experienced firsthand,” he said. “And that surely contributes to making me particularly fond of this city.”
Now Bocelli’s focus is the foundation bearing his name. “My dream of philanthropy became true in 2011, with the birth of a foundation,” Bocelli said. “In the first five years of activity we have achieved important goals, which I had never thought would be possible.”
Instead of starting small, the Andrea Bocelli Foundation has a global approach and a goal its founder reduces to a few words: “Take care of people.”
One of the foundation’s projects, Voices of Haiti, will have 60 Haitian children between ages of 7 and 14 making their world choral debut on stage with Bocelli at Lincoln Center in New York City on Sept. 15. Bocelli considers the choir a metaphor for democracy, representing an important educational opportunity.
“Growing up in a context of strong poverty, thirsty for beauty, eager to learn, these children express through their eyes and their voices the intensity, the joy, the wonder of life,” Bocelli said. “Through the choir practice, studying and making music together, they have become aware of the meaning of discipline, of passion, of the love for what they do and of the sense of responsibility and, also, of their artistic talent.”
To make the music project Voices of Haiti a functioning reality, Bocelli has partnered with local nonprofit St. Luke Foundation of Haiti and he enlisted the technical expertise of baritone, conductor and educator Malcolm J. Merriweather as the artistic director. The experience has had a great impact on Merriweather’s world.
“My first trip to Haiti [in November 2015] was a completely new experience for me. I had never traveled to a place like Haiti before, where amidst the poverty and turmoil there is a great sense of pride and honor,” Merriweather said. “After the first trip to Haiti, I went back to my endeavors in New York City with a new standard. I have always had high standards for my ensembles, but Voices of Haiti strengthened my ensembles because I have passed on their level of endurance, pride and zeal for music.”
Andrea Bocelli In Concert
MGM Grand Garden Arena
Tickets on sale now
About the Andrea Bocelli Foundation
With a winning slogan, “joining forces,” the Andrea Bocelli Foundation hopes to fulfill its social mission to eradicate underprivileged situations by providing leadership to create anti-poverty programs, offer literacy opportunities, improve healthcare and empower deprived individuals and communities around the world.
Bocelli and his wife, Veronica, work with their foundation staff and partners like the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, a nonprofit Catholic foundation in Haiti providing education, healthcare, community development, agricultural investment and emergency relief programs. This organization’s programs aid more than 90,000 people a year.
The foundation is divided into two main platforms with multi-level projects:
- “Break the Barrier” fightspoverty through 13 projects in Haiti, including “Voices of Haiti,” plus two initiatives in Italy and emergency projects in Iraq and Syria.
- “Challenges” is dedicated to finding scientific and innovative technological solutions to help people cope and overcome physical limitat Its MIT Fifth Sense project is conducting research on visual impairment.
“We have established a fruitful collaboration with partners from Italian universities and with MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston,” Bocelli said. “This is a complex and ambitious project that addresses a research on visual impairment.”
The goal is to help a blind person avoid obstacles in their path by developing a wearable system that can receive information by means of vibrations letting them know that something is in their way.
Ultimately, Bocelli’s foundation is already succeeding on many levels of accomplishments. Through separate workshops for Break the Barrier and Challenges, ABF is able to recognize a need, come up with an action plan, and substantiate progress and results. You can learn more about ABF and how to get involved online at andreabocellifoundation.org.
Jackie Brett, LA Times Custom Publishing